Lyft Moves Customer Support Team To Nashville To Combat High-Priced San Fran Market

by Sarah Buhr : Tech Crunch – excerpt

Peer-to-peer ride-sharing startup Lyft informed 20 members of its San Francisco-based customer support team this week it will be relocating them to Nashville, Tennessee.

Lyft is building out its new customer service headquarters in Nashville, where overhead such as rent and salaries are cheaper. It will also help Lyft’s east coast support. The ride-sharing startup is asking customer service reps in San Francisco to work out of the capital of country music, instead.

“As we continue to grow we know we need more space for the employees who support our passengers and drivers,” reads an official statement from Lyft. “We chose Nashville as the home of our newest office because it is a great city with a lower cost of living and a growing talent pool.”

The move is part of a growing trend in Silicon Valley to find cheaper space and lower overhead elsewhere. Average office rent in San Francisco nearly doubled from $30 in 2013 to $70 per square foot today. Compare that to the $18-$22 average per square foot rental price in downtown Nashville.

Uber recently bought and plans to grow out its workforce in the Sears building in Oakland, California and other startups have added customer support and sales operations in areas other than San Francisco for a similar reason. Thumbtack, a peer-to-peer services startup sets its headquarters in San Francisco, but the customer support team operates in Sandy, Utah… (more)

Palo Alto inks $500K deal to loosen traffic gridlock, explores parking fixes

: bizjournals – excerpt

Try driving through Palo Alto during rush hour and you’re likely in for some quality time behind the wheel.

The wealthy Peninsula city known for its concentration of high-paying jobs is a poster child — along with other Silicon Valley office hubs like Mountain View and Sunnyvale — for the traffic gridlock that results from decades of unbalanced economic development.

Because Palo Alto has a very limited supply of homes priced under $1 million, tech workers, professional service providers, hospitality workers and Stanford academics alike commute into the city each day for work, leading to clogged streets and packed parking lots. As I have reported, the city had 3.1 jobs for every one housing unit as of 2012, U.S…

Recognizing that keeping commuters employers happy is a good thing for the city’s tax base, Palo Alto officials are working on multiple fronts to curb traffic woes and parking shortages fueled by the jobs-housing mismatch.

This month, the city approved a $499,880, three-year contract with Berkeley-based consulting firm Moore Lacofano Goltsman Inc. (MIG) to organize a downtown nonprofit Transportation Management Association, according to a report by Palo Alto Weekly. The city aims for the group to “coordinate incentives for downtown employees to switch from cars to other modes of transportation,” the paper adds.

“The city, employers and transit agencies have already promoted trip reduction and alternative options,” according to a memo on the need for the new downtown Transportation Management Association. “Yet, these initiatives are not comprehensive in nature and have not been effective from a district-wide standpoint.”…

Urban planning advocates throughout Silicon Valley are urging area cities to consider transit-oriented development and other means of reducing productivity-sapping traffic. But with disjointed public transit sometimes forcing commuters to switch between multiple systems — commuter rail, light rail, buses, bike sharing, etc. — the question is whether alternatives to driving are really practical(more)

At some point you have to questions the wisdom of continuing the same tactics when traffic is getting progressively worse. No tactics are in order. November elections will bring a fresh look at the driver backlash in many localities. A list of local election issues is coming soon. Stay tuned to metermadness.

VTA celebrates final funding amount toward BART Silicon Valley Extension

mercurynews – excerpt

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority last Wednesday hosted an event to celebrate the sixth and final state funding allocation of $39 million for the agency’s Bay Area Rapid Transit Silicon Valley Extension.

The event, held at the future Berryessa BART Station at 1411 Maybury Road in San Jose, included the California Transportation Commission representatives, Congressman Mike Honda, California Department of Transportation Secretary Brian Kelly, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and other local and state officials.

The $39 million will bring the total amount of the State of California’s Traffic Congestion Relief Program funding received for the BART project to $649 million. With this latest installment, the CTC, who is responsible for overseeing state-funded transportation programs, will have allocated a total of $768 million to the project.

VTA expects the BART line to the South Bay — with stops in Milpitas and Berryessa — to be up and running by 2017… (more)

The San Francisco 49ers’ New Football Stadium Is a Dud

 : businessweek – excerpt

On Saturday night, 48,000 people showed up for a soccer game between the San Jose Earthquakes and the Seattle Sounders at the brand new Levi’s Stadium located in Silicon Valley… For me, the big takeaway was that the Levi’s Stadium staff has plenty of work to do, and the stadium does not live up to its billing as a technological marvel at all…

What I did notice was that the parking lots around the stadium were at a standstill and that no one seemed to have thought through the public transportation system at all. The stadium is being fed by a light rail line that travels slowly around Silicon Valley. At the Levi’s Stadium station, thousands of people trying to access four different train lines were all funneled through the same area. Insanely, the path to get on the trains required people to walk across the tracks. As a result, the whole station had to come to a halt every time a new train arrived so that it could be filled up and then sent on its way. It typically takes me 15 minutes to drive from my house in Mountain View to the stadium. It took 90 minutes to get home by train. To get back to San Francisco, fans would then need to catch a larger train from Mountain View and ride another hour home. Things should get really exciting when the whole stadium is opened up for the 49ers and 70,000 people, or about one-third more than on Saturday… (more)

This App Sums Up Why Everyone Hates Silicon Valley

By Lydia O’Connor : huffington – excerpt

If you’re wondering why so many San Franciscans claim the tech industry has turned the city into a playground for the wealthy, this new parking app does a pretty good job of summing things up.

MonkeyParking, which started in Rome and recently made its U.S. debut in San Francisco, lets drivers auction off their curbside parking spots to the highest bidder and earn as much as $150 a month, according to the app makers.

“Publish your parking spot on MonkeyParking every time that you park your car and get notified about drivers willing to pay for the spot,” the company explains on its AngelList investor page. “Accept the price and leave your spot to the driver within 10 minutes. It’s a smart way to make some extra $ when you’re about to leave your spot anyway.”

Parking spots in San Francisco are notoriously difficult to find, and MonkeyParking thinks it’s created a convenient solution.

But it may only end up being convenient for well-to-do smartphone owners with enough superfluous income to buy parking spots. The app has already aroused the ire of residents upset seeing a tech startup trying to commoditize public space… (more)

No trickle down money here. Just a lot of good old-fashioned greed, the kind that used to be considered so gosh in San Francisco, but now its the currency of choice. Making money off other people’s misery. No wonder San Francisco is now ranks as the fourth most stressed city.

RELATED:
People Go Bananas Over MonkeyParking – The SF City Attorney’s office is also looking into whether it’s legal. “So far, all we’ve determined for sure is that it’s extremely weird,” a spokesperson told The Chronicle.
As far as I can see (Twitter) tech people are lauding MonkeyParking as the most novel form of “sharing economy” yield management yet, and SF veterans are arguing that it is yet another example of a tech corporation profiting off of public space. I guess the moderate view is that it’s some sort of Italian anarchist performance art… (more)

 

Protesters block Silicon Valley shuttles, smash Google bus window

By Sean Hollister : theverge – excerpt

The Google bus is a symbol of inequality

One of the perks of working at a major Silicon Valley company is a shuttle ride to work. But as housing prices rise in the San Francisco Bay Area, angry activists are targeting those shuttles to protest the region’s gentrification. In Oakland, protesters attacked a Google bus today, smashing a window and distributing fliers reading “Get the fuck out of Oakland” to Google employees on board…
One of the perks of working at a major Silicon Valley company is a shuttle ride to work. But as housing prices rise in the San Francisco Bay Area, angry activists are targeting those shuttles to protest the region’s gentrification. In Oakland, protesters attacked a Google bus today, smashing a window and distributing fliers reading “Get the fuck out of Oakland” to Google employees on board.

My Gbus got hit by protesters in Oakland and they broke a window. pic.twitter.com/VGCyhBLgyd

— Craig Frost (@craigsfrost) December 20, 2013

And in San Francisco, demonstrators blocked an Apple bus, holding signs and even carrying a wooden coffin bearing the message “Affordable housing.”
“We want the ruling class, which is becoming the tech class, to listen to our voices and listen to the voices of folks that are being displaced,” said one SF protester…
These aren’t isolated incidents. Just last week, some of the same San Francisco activists protested another tech industry bus at the same street corner, though an alleged Google employee at that rally turned out to be a fake. A small group of protesters also smashed a Google bus pinata back in May

Catherine Bracy gave a speech at the Personal Democracy Forum that does a good job of explaining the current economic inequality in Silicon Valley, and some reasons why the Google bus might inspire a certain degree of hatred. You can watch it here. (more)

If you think people are upset now, wait until the Federal unemployment checks stop coming. The pitchforks are out and will not be going away soon.
The best explanation we have seen so far for why the anti-eviction folks are attacking the buses came from someone on the local news who said, “We want the folks on the bus to join us in protesting the problems.”
Media can easily ignore the poor folks in the Mission who are losing their homes, but they can’t ignore anything that threatens the tech industry. Next trip to the Bay Area Obama might want to talk to the leaders of the protestors and listen to their concerns as well as the CEOs of Silicon Valley.

 

RELATED:
Via pandodaily
Source Craig Frost (Twitter, 1)(2)(3)
SF and Oakland, activists block tech buses to protest displacement
Indy Bay
ReutersKQED
oakland san francisco politics shuttle bay area bus protest transportation gentrification silicon valley Google

New loading zone proposed on Van Ness Avenue to ease issues with private shuttles and Muni

By: Will Reisman : San Francisco Examiner – excerpt

A new loading zone set to be carved out for private shuttles on Van Ness Avenue could be a sign of things to come, as The City prepares to deal with the ever-growing number of unregulated buses.
Van Ness Avenue has become the center of conflicts between Muni vehicles and private shuttles, which scoop up workers in San Francisco and carry them to jobs on the Peninsula and in Silicon Valley. The shuttles often pick up workers at stops designated for Muni vehicles, leading to public transit delays.
To address those concerns, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which manages Muni, has proposed adding an 80-foot boarding zone specifically for private shuttle vehicles on Van Ness Avenue. The proposed site, located in front of an old gas station near Union Street, will be voted on today… (more)

Here’s A Map To Silicon Valley’s Cushy Private Buses

By Megan Rose Dickey :businessinsider.com – excerpt

Taking the bus isn’t usually considered a luxury. But Silicon Valley companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, eBay, and Electronic Artstransport their employees to and from work, no matter where they live in San Francisco, on Wi-Fi equipped private buses with cushy, leather seats.
San Francisco-based design firm Stamen Design tracked those companies’ bus routes to figure out where their employees live and how many people rely on those private corporate buses, Geoffrey Fowler of the Wall Street Journal reports…
Stamen’s research estimated that the buses transport roughly 7,500 tech employees a day, Monday through Friday, and concluded that the unmarked buses ferry a third as many commuters as ride on Caltrain, a commuter train that travels between San Francisco and San Jose… (more)